Letter from Trust Council Chair Luckham regarding September 22 article on the anchorage resolution

Tuesday, October 20 2015

Dear Editor,

I am writing to help your readers understand the Islands Trust Council’s response to the anchorages proposed for the Georgia Strait side of Gabriola Island.

Your September 29, 2015 headline: “Islands Trust Council unanimously opposes ship anchorages in Trust Area,” is incorrect but your article contains the resolution passed by the Islands Trust Council: to “encourage the Executive Committee to identify and act upon appropriate opportunities for advocacy with respect to impacts of increased freighter anchorages in the Trust Area.” 

Over the next three years, the Islands Trust Council will be implementing its adopted 2014-2018 Strategic Plan that commits us to “advocate to reduce impacts of freighter anchorage activities” and “assist with community meetings about additional anchorages near Gabriola Island and Plumper Sound.” In early November, the Islands Trust will be taking action on these Strategic Plan items by hosting a meeting in Victoria with industry, elected officials and representatives from affected islands. The goals of the meeting are to understand the selection process for proposed anchorage locations and the concerns of residents and industry. The Islands Trust has also offered to assist the Pacific Pilotage Authority to host a community meeting on Gabriola Island in 2016 about potential anchorages. The Islands Trust Council and the Executive Committee will direct other advocacy activities and positions relating to anchorages as more information becomes available. 

For years, the Islands Trust Council has worked on marine safety and vessel anchorage issues on behalf of affected residents to encourage industry to minimize noise and light pollution in anchorages. The Islands Trust Council has also raised concern about ships dragging anchor and drifting close to land during storms, putting the islands and surrounding ecosystems at risk. There have been three recorded events in the Plumper Sound anchorage between 2009 and 2011 that were thankfully resolved without incident. Transport Canada and industry have circulated notices to mariners and improved practices as a result of Islands Trust advocacy.

Trust Council remains committed to working productively with all stakeholders affected by existing anchorages in the Trust Area, including Plumper Sound, Cowichan Bay, Houston Pass and Trincomali Channel.

While the Islands Trust does not have jurisdiction over shipping and anchorages, the Islands Trust Council can ask the federal government and industry to respect and consider the goals in the Islands Trust Policy Statement and the interests of Trust area residents and recreational users. Our practice as a public body is to facilitate dialogue and understanding among stakeholders and to encourage other government agencies to place priority on the side of protection for Trust Area ecosystems. 

I encourage your readers to visit the Islands Trust website www.islandstrust.bc.ca to learn about our advocacy efforts, especially concerning anchorages. 

Peter Luckham

Chair, Islands Trust Council